Spinners are the team’s strength, but Ranaweera’s side has worked to improve pace bowling and batting consistency
Sri Lanka Women won just two out of its 21 matches in the inaugural ICC Women’s Championship to finish eighth and last, but strong performances in the ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier 2017 at home, where it finished third, sealed its passage to the main draw of the ICC Women's World Cup 2017.
Led by Inoka Ranaweera, the skipper, the spin bowling unit looks as strong as ever, and has been bolstered by the return of Shashikala Siriwardene, the former captain and its highest wicket-taker in One-Day Internationals, after a long injury break.
Given the conditions in England, the side is going into the tournament with four pacers in Eshani Lokusuriyage, Udeshika Prabodhani, Sripali Weerakkody and Chamari Polgampola, but they are likely have their work cut out for them. The warm-up match against England on June 19 and India on June 21 in Chesterfield will be a good chance for them to get acclimatised.
The team will look to Nipuni Hansika, the opener coming off consistent performances in the qualifier, along with Chamara Athapaththu, the highest run-scorer for Sri Lanka in that event, to lay a strong platform for the team to cash in on. The batters have been working on their running between the wickets, and if the top order gets going, the team will back itself to cause a few shake-ups in the tournament.
Sri Lanka has had impressive showings in the qualifier. After progressing to the Super Six stage, it first brushed aside Pakistan by five wickets, and then started strongly in the second match against South Africa, only to fritter it away in the later stages, going down by nine wickets. It however came back well in the final game against Bangladesh, winning by 42 runs (DLS Method) to seal a World Cup spot and finish third in the tournament.
PREVIOUS WORLD CUPS:
Sri Lanka has featured in five of the 11 World Cups so far, first making an appearance in the 1997 edition in India. Its best performance came in 2013, when the Siriwardene-led side first upset England, the defending champion, and then shocked host India by 138 runs to proceed to the Super Six stage of the World Cup for the first time. It finished in fifth place. Siriwardene leads the run-scoring charts for Sri Lanka in World Cup matches with 327 runs.
A Sri Lankan legend and a veteran of 93 ODIs, Siriwardene has picked up 106 wickets with her off-spin and is the first bowler from her country to breach the 100 wickets milestone in the shorter format of the game. She is also the second-highest run-getter in ODIs for her team with 1613 runs to her name, including seven half-centuries, and holds the record for most appearances as captain in World Cups for her side (10).
Inoka Ranaweera (capt), Chamari Athapaththu, Chandima Gunaratne, Nipuni Hansika, Ama Kanchana, Eshani Lokusuriyage, Harshitha Madhavi, Dilani Manodara, Hasini Perera, Chamari Polgampola, Udeshika Prabodhani, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Shashikala Siriwardena, Prasadani Weerakkody (wk), Sripali Weerakkody.
24 June: New Zealand Women v Sri Lanka Women in Bristol
29 June: Sri Lanka Women v Australia Women in Bristol
2 July: England Women v Sri Lanka Women in Taunton
5 July: Sri Lanka Women v India Women in Derby
9 July: West Indies Women v Sri Lanka Women in Derby
12 July: Sri Lanka Women v South Africa Women in Taunton
15 July: Pakistan Women v Sri Lanka Women in Leicester